Thursday, January 15, 2009

Startline Woes

Peyton is continuing to make some pretty good progress in our agility training. We've recently come up with a new plan for trying to get him back when he starts to zoom, and so far it seems to be working, but I'll give it a few more weeks before giving a final thumbs up or down. :)

Overall, his focus continues to improve, although he's still very inconsistent from one run to the next. His contacts are still looking good, and I've also been working on some more difficult weave entries lately and he's handling them very well.

I think at this point, assuming I can get his zooming under control, my biggest challenge is the start line. Generally he has a very good stay, but in class (and obviously in trials) he just can't hold it. The problem is that if he breaks his stay and I stop him, he immediately disconnects and that's usually when the zoomies set in. But if I continue to run with him, then I'm reinforcing his self-release...which isn't a good thing either. What I've been noticing lately is that even if I get him back right after he breaks, he then shows resistance in returning to the start line. This has me totally stumped. To my knowledge, he hasn't had any bad experiences at the start line, so I'm not really sure if it's anxiety related. The only thing I can think of is that he can't handle the disconnection that happens when I indicate he's wrong.

I've been thinking back to when I first started training the weaves - if I made any indication that he did something incorrectly, he immedietely checked out. No matter how positive I tried to be, he just couldn't take it. So, I adjusted my training plan and tried very hard to always set him up for success. It worked really well and now he is a happy weaver and if he does make a mistake, I'm now able to go back and reattempt the weaves without him checking out on me.

I've been trying to figure out how to take this same approach and apply it to the start line. Maybe I should allow him to take one more obstacle after his break and then bring him back and try again until he figures out that it's not a big deal. I'm not sure that will work, but it might be worth a try. At home, I've been working on getting him to relax at the start, but I think it's going to be a while before that work translates to a stimulating environment.

This week I talked one of the husbands (aka course and bar setter extraordinaire) in my Monday night class into taping a few of our runs. I think I'm going to try to do this more often as I think it's a really great training tool. Even though I can generally figure out where we go wrong in class, nothing beats seeing it on tape. It also helps to point out all little (and sometimes big) handling mistakes I make.

Here's a little video of some sequences from our class this week, and a few practice runs tonight. It wasn't our best week, but not a terribly bad one either. :)

1 comment:

BrittBeah said...

Those little hops he does on the dog- walk just to make sure his feet are still on the contact are too cute. They are also a very nice indication that somewere in that crazy spotted mind he does remember what mom said about agility :)